WOODSOME Hall GC’s Chris Hanson cannot wait to move on to Mauritius and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open after a career-high tied-fifth finish on the European Tour.
Hanson had led the Hassan Trophy in Rabat going into the final day where a closing 75 saw him finish just two shots out of a play-off, ultimately won by Korea’s Wang Jeunghun.
And his upbeat attitude meant that he banked plenty of positives – plus a cheque for €58,050 – from a performance that complemented his previous week’s work on the Challenge Tour.
“What a great day,” said the Huddersfield player, who a week earlier placed fourth in the Challenge de Madrid on Europe’s second tier of tournament golf.
“I felt I played pretty solid throughout the day and drove the ball really nice.
“It’s a really tough test of golf, and to hold it together nicely in the rain was a great feeling and a massive confidence boost for my game.
“To put some more money on the Order of Merit and keep building the momentum from Madrid last week is exactly what I needed.”
He has risen to 113th in the Race to Dubai rankings with total winnings of €77,910, tantalisingly close to a place in the top 110 that, at season’s end, would retain playing privileges for next year.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last few days about my self and my game and have really shown to my self I can compete out here,” said Hanson, who had moved to the head of the field with a 67 on Saturday that included five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
“Roll on Mauritius.”
Huddersfield GC’s former English men’s amateur champion Nick Marsh was also left smiling in Rabat after tieing 16th on his European Tour debut.
Marsh, in his first year as a professional, earned €19,125 with rounds of 73 72 73 73 on a particularly difficult course, as evidenced by the winning aggregate of five under.
Wang beat Spain’s Nacho Elvira for his first European title, birdieing the 18th to force extra holes and repeating the trick twice in the play-off at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
He and Elvira had finished tied on 283, a shot ahead of England’s Robert Rock and France’s Clement Bernardo.
Elvira had birdied three of his last six holes to card a closing 69 and set a clubhouse target that only Wang was able to match with a birdie from 15 feet on the 72nd hole.
The players returned to the 18th for extra holes and Elvira looked set for victory when he hit a stunning fairway wood onto the green on the 531-yard par-5 and Wang missed the green, only for Wang to chip on and hole from 35 feet.
Elvira was unable to convert his eagle attempt and then missed the green with his approach at the second time of asking, leaving Wang clear to make a winning birdie.
“I’m so excited right now, I don’t think I will sleep tonight,” said the 20-year-old, who was second in the Indian Open in March and saw fellow Korean Soomin Lee win in China a fortnight ago.
“Soomin is a good friend of mine and I am so happy that he won the Shenzhen International. I win also so maybe I’ll party with Soomin.”
Asked about Elvira’s approach to the first play-off hole, Wang added: “That shot was really fantastic and then I miss on the right so I was just trying to make a birdie with a hard chip.
“Actually I didn’t think about birdie, I didn’t think about anything, I just putted and it went in.”
After overnight leader Hanson had double-bogeyed the eighth, Berardo held the outright lead for much of the day and reached six under par with a birdie on the 13th, only to bogey three of the next four holes.
Rock had briefly held a share of the lead when he also picked up his third shot of the day on 13, but bogeyed the 15th and 16th before closing with a birdie on the last.
“It’s a little bit tough to take,” said 39-year-old Rock, who held off the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to win his second European Tour title in Abu Dhabi in 2012.
“I played really well; the plan was always to try to get to five under and then consolidate. I did the first part well, but not the second part.
“The wedge shot on 15 went too far and then the eight iron into the 16th didn’t go far enough.
“So that was the difference between finishing third and winning, or at least getting into the play-off.
“It’s frustrating, especially as I also shaved the edge of the hole on the 17th.
“It’s sometimes difficult to see the positives straight after you’ve just missed out on winning.
“But there are some great tournaments coming up so it’ll be nice to go into them knowing that my game is in pretty decent shape right now.”